Senator Booker Re-Introduces Bill to Encourage Student Voter Registration

Senator Cory Booker's statement on Senator Robert Menendez
Senator Cory Booker's statement on Senator Menendez

Booker, Durbin, and Krishnamoorthi Re-Introduce the Help Students Vote Act

legislation increases student engagement in our democracy by ensuring that higher education institutions better support student voting

WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Senators Cory Booker (D-NJ), Dick Durbin (D-IL), and Congressman Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-IL) reintroduced the Help Students Vote Act, a bill to strengthen student voter registration and civic participation on college campuses. This legislation would allow for federal guidance to institutions of higher education in order to ensure their students have the resources they need to register to vote. Historically, young adults have voted at the lowest rates of any age group in U.S. elections and this bill is designed to ease some of the unique barriers college students face when registering to vote and voting.

“Young people today face more barriers than they should when trying to make their voices heard at the ballot box,” said Senator Booker. “The Help Students Vote Act helps alleviate some of the confusion and anxiety college students have about voting by adding much-needed federal guidance on how colleges and universities can ensure their students have the resources they need to register to vote and exercise their voice in our democracy.”

“Everyone deserves to have their voices heard, including America’s next generation,” said Senator Durbin. “I am proud to support the Help Students Vote Act to increase civic engagement on campuses around the country and ensure that young adults at colleges and universities are able to fully participate in our democracy.”

“As students begin college each year, many have never voted or even registered to vote before, and they frequently lack the support and resources they need to navigate the voting process,” said Congressman Krishnamoorthi. “Ensuring every voter has access to the ballot box is at the heart of our democratic values as a nation and this legislation will help hundreds of thousands of young Americans become more active participants in our democracy. I’m proud to join Senator Booker and Senator Durbin in introducing our legislation to strengthen the future of our democracy by helping students vote.”

Currently, Title IV of the Higher Education Act mandates that institutions of higher education make a “good-faith effort” to distribute voter registration forms to students. However, this language is ambiguous and does not include an enforcement mechanism to ensure compliance.

The Help Students Vote Act would require institutions of higher education to make a good faith effort to distribute voter registration forms to each student at least twice a year by:

  • Sending an email twice a year, and no less than 30 days before voter registration deadlines for federal and state elections, with links to voter registration information.
  • Designating a staff member or office as the “Campus Vote Coordinator” to answer student questions about voter registration.

The Help Students Vote Act would also:

  • Authorize the Fund for the Improvement of Postsecondary Education (FIPSE) grants to be awarded to institutions of higher education that greatly exceed the requirements to promote political engagement.
  • Authorize the Attorney General to empower the appropriate state law enforcement officer to commence a civil action if an institution engages in a pattern of violating this law.
  • Provide a private right of action for individuals or groups who are aggrieved by an institution that has engaged in a pattern of violating this law.
  • Provide funds to institutions of higher education work study programs to compensate students employed in community service and civic engagement activities such as voter registration and non-partisan voter engagement

U.S. Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), and Mazie K. Hirono (D-HI) co-sponsored this legislation.

Full text of the legislation can be viewed here.